Indiana University assistant coach Todd Starkey will be named the new head women’s basketball coach at Kent State this week, the Record-Courier reported.
The Record-Courier quoted “sources close to the Kent State Athletic Department” and said the official announcement could come as early as Tuesday and an introductory press conference as early as Wednesday.
The newspaper, which has good sources at Kent State, has been reliable on similar reports in the past. Leaks like this usually come from someone close to Athletic Director Joel Nielsen. who led the search. They can come from Nielsen himself.
Starkey interviewed at Kent last Wednesday.
Starkey had been an assistant at Indiana for two years. Before that, he was head coach at Division II Lenoir-Ryne University in Hickory, North Carolina, where he was national coach of the year in Division II in 2008-09 and coach of the year in the South Atlantic Conference four times.
His record in nine seasons there was 165-95 and 124-52 over his last six years. He won three regular season conference championships and more games than any coach in school history.
Indiana was 21-12 in the Big Ten last season. Starkey was part of the staff of Teri Moren, who became head coach at Indiana when Curt Miller resigned unexpectedly for personal reasons in 2014. Miller had been the highly successful Bowling Green coach before going to Indiana.
Moran was Big Ten coach of the year last season and gave her staff much credit for the program’s success.
An Indiana website said Starkey reportedly interviewed for the Western Carolina job after his first season with the Hoosiers season.
At Lenoir-Rykne, Starkey’s 2008-09 team went 27-5 and advanced to the regional semifinals of the Division II tournament. It was the best record in school history. The team had been 15-13 in the previous year.
Earlier Starkey was an assistant for the Lenoir-Rhyne men’s team and an assistant for the men’s team at Montreat College, an NAIA school in North Carolina. He got his bachelor’s degree in outdoor education from Montreat in 1993. He also attended Mars Hill College in Asheville, North Carolina.
Starkey is 43 years old and has two sons and two daughters. Three seem to be college age and a fourth in high school. In his Twitter profile, he calls himself “one proud dad.” Best I can tell from the Indiana website, Starkey is not currently married. He is from Canfield, Ohio, a suburb of Youngstown, and played basketball for Canfield High School.
Starkey apparently was the third person to be offered the KSU job. Nine days ago, Youngstown State coach John Barnes turned down the Kent State job to remain at YSU. Reports also have said an unnamed head coach turned down Kent State to take a different Division I head coaching job.
Maria Marchesano, head coach at Division II Walsh University, also interviewed for the job last week.
The new coach will replace Danny O’Banion, whose contract was not renewed after going 21-98 in four seasons.
Barring transfers, all members of last year’s women’s team will return to Kent State next season. The team, which went 6-23, had no seniors.
Starkey’s bio from the Indiana website is here.
Starkey’s coaching record:
Indiana University (assistant)
2015-16 21-12 (fourth in Big Ten, second round NCAA tournament)
Lenoir-Ryne (head coach)
2013-14 24-7 (South Atlantic regular season champions, NCAA regional qualifier)
2012-13 19-9 (NCAA regional qualifier)
2011-12 19-10 (NCAA regional qualifier)
2009-10 21-8 (South Atlantic regular season champions, NCAA regional qualifier)
2008-09 27-5 (South Atlantic Conference regular season and tournament champions, NCAA regional qualifier)
It certainly looks like more than a decent hire. I like Starkey’s head coaching experience — it was something O’Banion lacked. His record seems to show he’s a good game coach, which was one of my top criteria for the job.
Starkey’s background isn’t as strong as John Barnes, the Youngstown coach who turned down the KSU job. Barnes had three years of Division I experience. Starkey is a little big ahead of where Barnes was before he went to Youngstown. Barnes had been an assistant at mid-major Green Bay for a year after 10 years or so at Division II Michigan Tech before going to YSU.
Starkey’s pre-Indiana recruiting background isn’t exactly MAC footprint. The last KSU player I can remember from the South is Michele Burden, who was from Louisville. That was a long, long time ago. So I hope he hires some assistants — maybe even including a current assistant — with a background in the Midwest.
O’Banion, who came from Memphis and Minnesota, did, and she recruited pretty well.
Starkey doesn’t have to worry as much about recruiting as O’Banion did when she arrived. She also was named in mid-April and added two junior college players, a freshman and a transfer after most of the better players were already signed.
KSU has only one incoming freshman next season, second-team all-stater Ali Poole from Carrolton. I’m sure one of Starkey’s first phone calls will be to her to keep her on board.
The Flashes are likely to have only one senior starter next season — Larissa Lurken. That means the new coach doesn’t have to bring in a slam-bang class next year, either. Three others will graduate then, so he will have an opportunity to add a significant number of his own players.
But for better or worse, the next few seasons will be primarily played by people already on the roster. I think there’s talent on the team — there are five all-staters on the roster (six with Poole).
Starkey has proven he can coach a winner. He just has to prove he can do it at this level.